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Durezza wins this year’s Kikuka Sho at Kyoto.
Fourth pick Durezza conquered the 3,000-meter distance to score his first graded and fifth consecutive win in this year's Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger), putting away the victors of the first two legs of the Triple Crown in a stunning 3-1/2-length win. The brown colt broke his maiden two months after his debut in September as a two-year-old and had registered three allowance races this season—the Yamabuki Sho ( 1 Win Class, 2,200m) in April, the Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy (2 Wins Class, 2,000m) in June and the Nihonkai Stakes (3 Wins Class, 2,200m) in August. This success brings trainer Tomohito Ozeki his first JRA-G1 win since the 2017 Sprinters Stakes with Red Falx and third overall title. Jockey Christophe Lemaire celebrates his third Kikuka Sho triumph following the 2016 and 2018 victory with Satono Diamond and Fierement, respectively. His most recent JRA-G1 success was with Equinox in this year's Takarazuka Kinen and he is now the owner of a total of 46 titles.
Durezza, who started from the farthest post position, rushed to the front to take the lead while Pax Ottomanica sat on his tails a length behind in second. After covering the first 1,000 meters in 1:00.4, the son of Duramente was steadied to third from the front in the backstretch, briefly giving up the lead to Pax Ottomanica and Libyan Glass. As the field started making their bids after the third corner in the second lap, Durezza was second to enter the lane, kicked into gear catching Libyan Glass before the 200-meter pole to take command once again and stretched with the fastest closing speed to clear the wire 3-1/2 lengths in front of the next contender.
"He made a flying start and was keen to go so I decided to let him take the lead. He responded well between the third and last corner which made me confident that he was going to close strongly. When he accelerated in the stretch, I knew we were going to win. To see him beat such a strong field today over the 3,000-meter distance means we can look forward to him doing well among G1 company over 2,000 and 2,400 meters also," commented Christophe Lemaire in an interview after the race.
Sent off favored in second, Tastiera was settled around ninth and traveled wide in the backstretch before turning home alongside the favorite Sol Oriens. The Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) winner showed a good turn of foot down the center of the lane with the second fastest late kick but failed to threaten the winner in a 3-1/2-length runner-up effort.
Race favorite Sol Oriens was unhurried traveling wide in fifth to sixth from the rear, made headway at the third corner and made a wide sweeping bid into the straight. The Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) winner picked off his tired opponents and dug in fiercely for third in the final strides, finishing 1-1/2 lengths behind his biggest rival.
4th: (6) Libyan Glass—tracked leaders early, took lead at 3rd corner, ran gamely but missed 3rd
place just before wire
5th: (8) Savona—raced around 15th, made headway in backstretch, entered to lane in 3rd,
6th: (12) Hearts Concerto—traveled in 5th, remained in contention until 200m pole
7th: (10) Meiner Laulea—took economic trip near rear, showed effort on rails until 100m out
8th: (13) Night in London—hugged rails around 12th, showed brief response, needed more
9th: (15) Phantom Thief—settled around 6th, angled out, found little room at early stretch, never
10th: (11) Satono Glanz—sat around 11th near favorite, ridden after 3rd corner, failed to respond
11th: (16) Shonan Bashitto—raced around 9th, showed brief effort until 200m pole
12th: (3) Season Rich—ran around 9th, dropped position turning last corners, passed tired rivals
13th: (2) Win Odin—traveled near rear, circled wide, even paced
14th: (1) Top Knife—was off slow, trailed in rear early, advanced to 5th, nothing left at stretch
15th: (9) Nocking Point—saved ground around 7th early, gradually dropped back
16th: (4) Danon Tornado—positioned forwardly around 4th on rails, outrun after final corner
17th: (5) Pax Ottomanica—chased leader in 2nd, led at one point in backstretch, faded after final